Xiaomi’s IoT Move: Strategy, Investment Philosophy, Challenges and Success Drivers

With the smartphone market becoming saturated globally, smartphone OEMs have been aggressively developing opportunities in the IoT (Internet of Things) segment since late 2018. The aim is to avoid over-reliance on the smartphone and hardware business, and to create new revenue streams in the upcoming 5G and IoE (Internet of Everything) era.

  • In September 2018, Vivo announced its IoT strategy with the launch of its first connected platform, Jovi IoT, hoping to take on the smart home market by enabling users to control their home devices with Vivo’s voice assistant.
  • In January 2019, Xiaomi announced a dual core strategy of Smartphone & AIoT (Artificial Intelligence + IoT) for the next five years with RMB 10 billion investment in AIoT.
  • In March 2019, Huawei announced the ‘1+8+N’ seamless AI life strategy, which involves integration of user experience across an entire ecosystem of devices including smartphones, tablets, PCs, VR devices, wearables, smart screens, smart audio, smart speakers, head units and other IoT devices.
  • In December 2019, OPPO at its developers’ conference unveiled an ‘IoT enablement action’, opening HeyThings IoT protocol, HeyThings IoT service platform and audio interconnection protocol. OPPO’s vision is to build an IoT ecosystem that covers all core categories of smart devices and four specific scenarios, namely personal, family, travel and office.
  • Since early 2020, other smartphone OEMs such as Oneplus and realme have also forayed into the consumer IoT sector with the launch of new product categories including smart bands, smart watches, TWS (True Wireless Stereo) and smart TVs.

Among the leading smartphone vendors, Xiaomi is an early mover to the IoT sector. Founder Lei Jun has eyed the consumer IoT sector from mid-2013, building a team comprising of engineers to scout for and invest in IoT device start-ups. As of Q1 2020, Xiaomi has invested in over 300 companies covering more than 2,000 product SKUs. In 2019, the IoT and lifestyle product sector grew 41.7% YoY to reach RMB 62.1 billion and account for over 30% of Xiaomi’s total revenue. The number of connected IoT devices (excluding smartphones and laptops) on Xiaomi’s IoT platform reached 234.8 million in 2019.

Counterpoint Xiaomi Global Revenues by Product Segment

Countrpoint IoT & Lifestyle Product Segment Revenues Share of Total

What are the investment philosophies of Xiaomi in the IoT and lifestyle product segment? What is the model of cooperation between Xiaomi and its investee companies? What is Xiaomi’s strategy to develop viral IoT products? What are the strengths and challenges for Xiaomi in the future development of IoT? Are there chances for latecomers to bridge the gap with Xiaomi?

To find answers to these questions, please refer to the full report ‘Xiaomi IoT Traction & Strategy: Deep Dive Analysis’ here.

Flora is a Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research based out of Hong Kong. She started her career as an analyst for new market development with LeEco APAC, where she conducted market research regarding telecommunications, smart devices, internet and OTT business across APAC region. Furthermore, she moved to China Mobile International (CMI) to support globalization of the leading Chinese telecom giant, and help with strategic cooperation between CMI and global carriers. To pursue her line of interest in smart devices, IoT and mobile ecosystem, she joined Counterpoint Research team. In academics Flora holds a Master in Corporate Communications with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Bachelor of Law in International Relations and Regional Studies with Sun Yat-sen University.

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